Access to the Arts Uplifts the Quality of the Healthcare Experience

The incorporation of the arts, including the visual arts and crafts, into healthcare settings is a growing trend backed by research that shows increased mental and social functioning, reduced stress, anxiety, depression and pain in patients who receive access to the arts.

Arts programs in hospitals and healthcare institutions serve multiple audiences; the use of the arts in healthcare benefits patients, families, visitors, caregivers and hospital staff alike. Incorporating the arts into a hospital or healthcare setting not only assists the healing of the patients, but also can soothe and relieve their families and caregivers’ stress.

The Society for the Arts in Healthcare (thesah.org) applauds the positive effects of these programs. An example of these efforts can be found in the Dana Farber Creative Arts Program, a healing initiative from the world renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and recipient of the 2005-2006 Johnson & Johnson/Society for the Arts in Healthcare grant. The Dana Farber Creative Arts Program works to show patients how crafts, writing, poetry, dance/movement, drama and music can help comfort and heal them on their long journey of treatment. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is always on the cutting edge of healthcare, and their involvement in the arts in healthcare only boosts the work of others in this exciting and expanding field.

Another notable program for the arts in healthcare is also a Society member-Shands Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida. Shands Arts in Medicine program has a breadth of innovative techniques to incorporate the arts into the healing process. Through all artistic mediums, Shands sees the benefits of arts in healthcare. Specifically, the extensive programming in their visual arts department emphasizes not just traditional painting and drawing, but also works largely with crafts. Their innovations in the field have bolstered their status as an important member of the arts in healthcare community.

The Society for the Arts in Healthcare is a non-profit international membership organization located in Washington, DC. Founded in 1991, the Society for the Arts in Healthcare is dedicated to advancing arts as integral to healthcare by:

o Demonstrating the valuable roles the arts can play in enhancing the healing process;
o Advocating for the integration of the arts into the environment and delivery of care within healthcare facilities;
o Assisting in the professional development and management of arts programming for healthcare populations;
o Providing resources and education to healthcare and arts professionals; and
o Encouraging and supporting research and investigation into the beneficial effects of the arts in healthcare.

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